Dr Dudley M. Bruton, mb, bs, msc, frcp,
Consultant Occupational Physician
Dudley Bruton has had a long and distinguished career spanning 54 years in Occupational Medicine. He played a pivotal role in establishing The Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians, which is a charity concerned with promoting and supporting health at work.
Dudley was born in Glannant Street in June 1933, but soon afterwards moved to 47 Gadlys Road where he spent the rest of his time in Aberdare.
His father, David Idris Bruton1 worked for the Council as a bus driver and his mother Catherine (Katie) née Jones had worked for the Co-op. Idris was active in local politics as Secretary of the Trades and Labour Council, and Katie sang with local amateur operatic societies.
Dudley’s primary education was at Park School. Entering the Nursery Class at three years old, he made friends with Philip Jones2 , and the two boys remained friends until the latter’s untimely death. They went through to the 6th form together at ‘The County’3, before Dudley moved with his parents to Reading, his father having obtained a teaching post there after training as a teacher following wartime army service.
Both Dudley and Philip sat the scholarship exam for The County School aged nine years and nine months and entered Form 1 alpha in September 1943. Having entered the school at ten Dudley took part in under-14 sporting events when in the fifth form and believes he was in the sixth when he played for the Junior XV.
The active musical life of the school led to him broadcasting three times, twice with the ‘small choir’ and with the school orchestra in a concert from the 1947 National Eisteddfod held in Mountain Ash.
The family move to Reading in 1948 resulted in Dudley entering Reading School where in his final year, he was House Captain, Vice Captain of the School and had gained School Colours in Rowing and Rugby.
In 1951 he was offered and accepted a medical school place at The London Hospital and shared digs with Philip Jones who had started at Guy’s Hospital a year earlier.
Five years later on the 5th of May 1956, Dudley qualified as a doctor, receiving the news on the morning of his wedding to Joan Lewis4, sister of David Lewis (ABGS 1945-1952), which took place at St Elvan’s in Aberdare.
Following resident appointments at The London Hospital and at Farnham Hospital in Surrey he obtained a Short Service Commission in the RAF. This furthered his interest in industrial and aviation medicine ultimately leading to a career in these fields.
His RAF postings meant that Joan and Dudley’s first child, a daughter, was born in Shropshire, and their second, a boy, was born in Malta. Their third, also a boy, was born in Reading after Dudley had left the RAF. However, all three children were christened in Aberdare at St. Elvan’s.
After three years as a GP in Reading, he decided to pursue his interest in Industrial Medicine full time, and worked as a doctor in the steelworks in Ebbw Vale. The spirit in the works and community made it a particularly happy time for Dudley and Joan, enhanced by being again close to family and friends in Aberdare. While in Ebbw Vale Dudley obtained a Diploma in Industrial Health and participated in research by the Welsh National School of Medicine on chronic bronchitis in the steel industry.
In 1965 he returned to aviation medicine in a post in the newly amalgamated medical services of BEA and BOAC at Heathrow. The family again set up home in Reading, and Dudley and Joan have, with the exception of two years, spent the rest of their lives in the Thames Valley.
Dudley’s work in BEA and BOAC’s Joint Medical Service (later the British Airways Medical Service) led to his appointment in 1969 as the Principal Medical Officer responsible for medical services for some 48,000 ground staff most of whom were at Heathrow but included staff at the BOAC engine overhaul plant in Treforest, and elsewhere in the UK.
The preventive health role of his department encompassed pioneering work on a hearing conservation programme for noise exposed staff, control of exposures to chemical materials in the workplace, radiation protection from a variety of sources, and work on the provision of comfortable and ergonomically sound office working environments including being the earliest to establish standards of healthy and safe working conditions for employees working with computer display terminals. His department’s wider responsibilities involved the setting of healthy and safe environmental standards for major new building projects, ground support equipment etc., particularly those connected with the introduction of new generation aircraft such as Concorde and the Boeing 747.
With the advent of new Health and Safety legislation in the USA and Europe, his responsibilities were extended to include an advisory role on safety in ground operations worldwide. During this time, he obtained an M.Sc. in Occupational Medicine and became a member of The International Aerospace Medical Association and The National Safety Congress of America.
Changes in specialist education arising in the 1970s made it increasingly necessary for Occupational Medicine, as Industrial Medicine was now called, to be recognised as a specialty and he was closely involved with these developments as Assistant Hon Secretary then Honorary Secretary of the Society of Occupational Medicine.
In 1978 the Royal College of Physicians on the advice of its Standing Committee on Occupational Medicine, of which he was a member, established a Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the first Faculty to be founded wholly within the College in the five centuries of its existence. Coincidentally Dudley was named its first Member, and was elected a Fellow the following year.
In 1979, an opportunity arose to become the Director of Occupational Health Services of Carreras Rothmans, an international company, involving personal responsibility for the medical care of expatriate staff, their families and the many employees who travelled overseas. This enabled long-standing interests in tropical and travel medicine to be followed. The role involved extensive travel, particularly to the Middle East and Equatorial Africa to understand the risks and become familiar with local medical facilities, often very limited.
He retired in 1993 and enjoyed nine years playing golf, Real Tennis, activities with grandchildren and holidays on the Gower.
In 2002 changes proposed to medical registration led him to return to work, part time, as an independent Consultant in Occupational Medicine covering a variety of fields from motor manufacturing to the NHS.
As part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine he was invited to write “The Faculty of Occupational Medicine—The First Twenty Five Years.” 5
Dudley held several honorary positions during his career6, and mainly through his work in these posts he was honoured in 2004 with a Fellowship of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and shortly after retiring in 2011, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.
He and Joan have a longstanding interest in art especially that of painters painting in Wales; both have been active in the Reading and District Welsh Society and both have held the position of President. Together they attended the River Pageant to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, almost sixty years after together watching her Coronation procession in the Mall in 1953.